There were some amusing moments in Knesset on Wednesday night despite the tension as MKs stayed late to debate the controversial Governance Bill.
Both the hareidi-religious Yahadut Hatorah (Gimmel) faction and the majority-Arab parties Balad, Hadash and Ra'am Ta'al strongly opposed the bill, which would make it harder for small factions to enter Knesset.
During his speech against the bill, hareidi-religious MK Yisrael Eichler turned to his Arab colleagues and expressed his support for their struggle against the bill – in Arabic. “Nahu maakum b’nidalkum min ajlal demokratia,” he told them.
His use of Arabic was met by shouts of support and laughter from the Arab MKs.
MK Ahmed Tibi of Ra’am Ta’al later took the opportunity to repay MK Eichler in kind.
“I must thank the Member of Knesset from Yahadut Hatorah, and also the Meretz members, and some of the Labor team, who expressed solidarity with our fear of the existential threat to us from the high vote threshold set by Yisrael Beyteinu and Yesh Atid,” he began.
“My colleague MK Eichler did well in taking the unusual step of addressing us in Arabic,” he continued. Addressing Eichler, he said, “You surprised us all – you surprised us all in a good way – and you said in Arabic that you support the Arabs in their fight for democracy.”
“I want to thank you, Member of Knesset Eichler, when I say ‘Mir de araba’ b’dankin eich of de tmiha eigen demokratia,” he said – telling Eichler “In the name of the Arabs, I thank you for your support for democracy” in Yiddish.
Tibi’s “thank you” was met with a wave of laughter in the Knesset hall.